There was some fantastic recent news for the Three Forks Schools, with the announcement of Lead Chef Ashley Darling winning two awards in the Montana School Nutrition Association's School Food Contest.
Darling won a first-place award for Yogurt Berry Bowls in the "Local" category and finished in second place for Breakfast Quiche in the "Cooking from Scratch" category.
To say Darling was thrilled when she found out about the awards would be an understatement.
"I was so excited. I actually jumped up and down. There are so many schools in Montana, so the competition is pretty hard. I have entered pictures in the contest for four years, and I have only won a sticker," she said.
According to Darling, the Yogurt Berry Bowls have always been a fan favorite.
"I chose it because it can be a quick grab-and-go option, full of protein and local ingredients, and so delicious. I chose the Quiche because it was a new dish last year. I figured, why not try something new? The students were a little skeptical the first time, but after that, they loved it," Darling said.
Now in her second year with the Three Forks Schools, Darling said she loves her job.
This job is so rewarding in many ways. I get to see the students grow throughout the year, the smiles, the thank you's, parents send emails or see me out and about telling me to thank you for feeding their children, seeing the students outside of school and running up and saying hi. All these moments just melt your heart. I love that I get to see my children every day," said Darling. "But I think the most rewarding factor is knowing that this is a safe zone for a child who needs food/anything. They know they can come anytime and grab a quick snack or a quick chat. All of us Lunch Ladies are there whenever they need us. I have a great crew here."
Darling plans on using the prize money of $750 to purchase a Sunkist fruit slicer.